Undergraduate Certificate in Spanish Language Advanced-Level Proficiency

For general questions, contact Spanish Advising at SPAdvise@umn.edu.

For questions related to assessment, contact the Language Testing Program.

The Certificate of Advanced-Level Proficiency in Spanish is a new option for undergraduate students who are interested in achieving advanced-level proficiency in Spanish, and having their skills formally recognized. It is open to Spanish majors and minors, as well as University of Minnesota undergraduate students from any college studying any discipline.

Benefits of the Certificate​

This certificate helps you move from intermediate-level proficiency to advanced-level, and provides you with an internationally recognized marker of your advanced proficiency. This certificate also encourages the integration of language and culture learning across your academic and professional life while empowering you to be responsible for your own second language learning. 

How to Get Started

If you are interested in pursuing the certificate, please contact SPAdvise@umn.edu for additional information.

Requirements for Completion of the Certificate

  1. Pass two upper-level courses taught in Spanish with a C- or better. There are two options for completing this requirement:
    • Option 1: Spanish 3015W/V Spanish Composition and Communication or SPAN 3019W and one pre-approved content-based course
    • Option 2: Two pre-approved content-based courses.
  2. An intensive Spanish-language immersion experience. There are two options for completing this requirement:
    • Option 1: An academic study abroad experience of at least six weeks in a Spanish-speaking country or territory that includes at least one course taught in Spanish.
    • Option 2: Completion of a pre-approved semester-long immersion experience. Non-semester-long versions of these courses do not count towards the Spanish Language Immersion requirement. Non-study-abroad immersion options include:
      • SPAN 3401 - Latino Immigration and Community Engagement 
      • or SPAN 3404 - Medical Spanish and Community Health Service (3.0 cr)
      • or Participation in the Community Engagement Scholars Program, with a focus on opportunities to engage with native Spanish speakers (requires 400 service hours)
      • or Other option approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies
  3. Take 4 self-assessments and use your results in the critical reflection essay. Contact SPAdvise@umn.edu for access.
  4. Pass the critical reflection essay: Submit a short essay (450–600 words) written in English, Spanish, or Portuguese that is both a self-assessment of your Spanish-language skills and also explains how you have used your language and cultural understanding skills at the university and beyond.
  5. Pass the ACTFL advanced-level exam in Spanish by achieving a rating of advanced-low or higher in all four sections. It is strongly recommended that you do not attempt the ACTFL exam until the self-assessment results indicate that you may have achieved advanced-level proficiency.

Additional Experiences to Increase Your Spanish Proficiency

We also recommend studying abroad in a Spanish-speaking country for at least a semester, service learning in a Spanish-speaking community, volunteer or work experience in a Spanish-speaking community, participation in the Community Engagement Scholars Program, TandemPlus participation, participation in a language or culture-based Living and Learning Community, and actively using your Spanish for an average of 15-20 hours per week outside of class.

Important Certificate Completion Dates Spring 2024

  • January 16 - February 16: Eligible students may complete self-assessments and submit a Critical Reflection Essay (CRE). Students who have passed the CRE in a previous semester may pre-register for the ACTFL tests.
  • March 11 - 22: All students eligible to take or retake ACTFL tests may register for test dates.
  • March 29: ACTFL testing date for speaking, reading and listening (no writing), in-person*
  • April 5: ACTFL testing date for speaking, reading, listening and writing, in-person*

*Test delivery and schedule is subject to change

Please contact spadvise@umn.edu to see if you are eligible to submit a Critical Reflection Essay. If you are eligible, you will receive a link to give you access to the Spanish Certificate Canvas site to upload your materials.


Funding (effective fall 2021): Students will have two options for registering for the ACTFL Exam:

Option 1: Sponsored

If you are a current University of Minnesota degree-seeking student, you are eligible for one free attempt at three of the four tests: listening, reading, and speaking. You will be charged for the writing test through your student account, and this cost is $73.

You may choose to take all four tests on one day or divide the four tests into two days (three tests on one day; one test the other day).

Eligibility can be spread out over multiple semesters.

Option 2: Non-Sponsored

Non-degree students, graduated students, and students who are retaking tests for the second (or more) time will be charged for each test through their student account. Some restrictions may apply. The costs of the tests are:

  • Reading: $31
  • Listening $31
  • Speaking: $73
  • Writing: $73

You may choose to take all tests in one day or, if taking more than one test, may divide the tests into two days.

Retake Policy

You may only take the ACTFL Exam once per semester. If you would like to retake a test, you may retake it in the next available semester.

If you are a degree-seeking student, you are allowed one (1) free retake on reading, listening, and speaking. In order to be eligible for this, you must retake the test(s) within one year of the first attempt*. Only currently registered students are eligible to have the cost of these tests covered by the Language Center. You are still responsible for the cost of the writing test. You may only retake the test(s) that you need. All subsequent test attempts must be paid for by the student.

*In the case of students who took a test as part of a class, this does not count as an attempt.

If you are a non-degree or graduated student, you are responsible for the cost of each retake test(s).

For additional information on the exam, please check our ACTFL Advanced-Level Exam page.